B.A. in Zoology (Ohio Wesleyan University)
M.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation (University of Florida)
Ph.D. in Biology (University of Florida)
postdoc - Evolutionary Functional Genomics unit at The Biodesign Institute (Arizona State University)
I initially trained as an evolutionary ecologist with a focus on functional morphology in avian and insect systems. During my post-doc, I transitioned to the field of molecular evolution. I also have over 10 years of experience as an aviculturist and zookeeper at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Columbus, Ohio (working large cats, hoofstock and birds) and conducting reproductive research on captive birds at Disney's Discovery Island birdpark in Orlando, Florida.
Cell and Molecular Biology for Engineers I and II
The Computational Molecular Evolution Lab (link coming soon)
We are a mostly “dry-bench” or computer-based laboratory studying the evolution of the molecular components of cells. Research at this level requires an interest in all the fundamental natural sciences, including biology, chemistry and physics, as well as some skills in mathematics and computer programming. We are keenly interested in the physicochemical elements of molecular systems that are evolvable (i.e. can change at some heritable level). Biophysics and biochemistry underlies all molecular processes in the cell, but only some biological molecules, historically known as “semantides”, can contain information that is subject to heritable molecular change over deep evolutionary timescales. These are typically aperiodic polymers such as nucleic acids (DNA or RNA) and proteins. Biophysical interactions between these various polymers often define how gene activities are regulated and it is well-documented that species are as much defined at this level of regulatory interaction as they are at the structural level of proteins encoded by DNA. We are currently exploring the evolution of the biophysical properties of whole genomes and their interactions with DNA binding proteins. We often combine biophysical modeling and computer simulation with comparative genomics and epigenomics to identify where natural selection has acted upon DNA-protein interaction. Our long-term research goal is a more biophysically-grounded understanding of the functional evolution of these information-containing molecules in the cell.
Recent and Current Projects
- Molecular evolution of chromatin states
- Evolutionary history of the genetic code
- Codon bias and the multiplexing of information in DNA
- Molecular evolution of disordered proteins
Link to my publications on PubMed
Papers not databased at PubMed are listed below
Ryen E. Babbitt C.W. Tyler A.C. Babbitt G.A. 2013. Community Ecology Perspectives on the Structural and Functional Evolution of Consumer Electronics. in press JOURNAL OF INDUSTRIAL ECOLOGY.
Trotta V. Cavicchi S. Guerra D. Andersen D.H. Babbitt G.A.Kristensen T.N. Pedersen K.S. Loeschcke V. Pertoldi C. 2011. Allometric and non-allometric consequences of inbreeding on Drosophila melanogaster wings. BIOLOGICAL JOURNAL OF THE LINNEAN SOCIETY 102:626-634.
Babbitt G.A. 2011. Chromatin Evolving. Despite our long familiarity with the chromosome, much about its function and evolution remains a mystery. AMERICAN SCIENTIST 99(1): 48-55. (Cover Feature Article) reprinted in INVESTIGACION Y CIENCIA (Spanish language edition of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN)
Babbitt G.A. and Frederick P.C. 2007. Selection for bill dimorphism in ibises: an evaluation of hypotheses. WATERBIRDS. 30: 199-206.
Babbitt G.A. 1996. The effect of collection size on reproduction in captive Caribbean flamingos: direct stimulation, social facilitation or random chance? Proceedings of the AZA Western Regional Conference, Denver, CO.
Babbitt G.A. 1995. Seasonality and captive management of the Marabou Stork. Proceedings of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association Great Lakes Regional Conference, Louisville, KY.
Burtt E.H., Chow W., and Babbitt G.A. 1991.The occurrence and demography of mites in Tree Swallow, House Wren and Eastern Bluebird nests.In Bird-Parasite Interactions, J.E. Loye and M. Zuk, Eds. Oxford Ornithology Series, Oxford University Press.